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How Vitamin B6 Works

Benefits of Vitamin B6

Entire books have been written on the therapeutic uses of vitamin B6; it has been used to treat more than 100 health conditions. These cover a wide range of physical and psychological disorders, from heart disease to mental depression to kidney stones to memory loss. This page covers some of the common ailments that vitamin B6 can treat.

Pyridoxine has a role in preventing heart disease. Without enough pyridoxine, a compound called homocysteine builds up in the body. Homocysteine damages blood vessel linings, setting the stage for plaque buildup when the body tries to heal the damage.

The pyridoxine in vitamin B6 can lower cholesterol, reducing the risk of a heart attack.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The pyridoxine in vitamin B6
can lower cholesterol, reducing
the risk of a heart attack.

Vitamin B6 prevents this buildup, thereby reducing the risk of heart attack. Pyridoxine lowers blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels and keeps blood platelets from sticking together. All of these properties work to keep heart disease at bay.

If people are marginally deficient in vitamin B6, they may be more susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is characterized by pain and tingling in the wrists after performing repetitive movements or otherwise straining the wrist on a regular basis.

A lack of the vitamin may play a role in sensitivity to monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer. This sensitivity can cause headaches, pain and tingling of the upper extremities, nausea, and vomiting. In both of these syndromes, supplementation of pyridoxine alleviates symptoms only when people were deficient in the vitamin to begin with.

Prone to kidney stones? Pyridoxine, teamed up with magnesium, prevents the formation of stones. It usually takes about three months of supplementation to make blood levels of these nutrients sufficient to keep stones from forming.

Vitamin B6 has long been publicized as a cure for premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Study results conflict as to which symptoms are eased, but most of the studies confirm that women who take B6 supplements have reductions in bloating, breast pain, and premenstrual acne flare, a condition in which pimples break out about a week before a woman's period begins.

There is strong evidence that pyridoxine supplementation, starting ten days before the menstrual period, prevents most pimples from forming. This effect is due to the vitamin's role in hormone and prostaglandin regulation. Skin blemishes are typically caused by a hormone imbalance, which vitamin B6 helps to regulate.

Mental depression is another condition which may result from low vitamin B6 intake. Because of pyridoxine's role in serotonin and other neurotransmitter production, supplementation often helps depressed people feel better, and their mood improves significantly. It may also help improve memory in older adults.

Women who are on hormone-replacement therapy or birth control pills often complain of depression and are frequently deficient in vitamin B6. Supplementation improves these cases, too.

Low intakes of pyridoxine can slow down the immune system. Several different immune components become rather sluggish and critical prostaglandins levels decrease in the absence of adequate vitamin B6, making a person more susceptible to diseases.

People with asthma can benefit from pyridoxine supplements. Clinical studies of the nutrient show that wheezing and asthma attacks decrease in severity and frequency during vitamin B6 supplementation.

Anyone with breathing difficulties who is taking the drug theophylline may want to consider supplementation with this vitamin. Theophylline interferes with vitamin B6 metabolism. Supplementation not only normalizes blood levels but also helps limit the headaches, anxiety, and nausea that often accompany theophylline use.

The nausea and vomiting that frequently accompany the early stages of pregnancy sometimes respond to pyridoxine treatment.

This health-affirming vitamin occurs naturally in all foods, but it's abundant in meats, whole grains, and certain other foods. On the next page you'll learn what to eat for a good dose of vitamin B6.

Vitamin B6 is just one of the many vitamins that are part of a healthy diet. Check out the following links to learn more:
  • Folate is necessary for healthy growth, because it makes DNA and RNA. Learn how it manufactures cells at How Folate Works.
  • Vitamin B12, which helps folate make cells, works differently than any other vitamin. Learn the details at How Vitamin B12 Works.
  • Vitamin B1, or thiamin, is one of the essentil vitamins added back to "enriched" foods. Learn about it at How Vitamin B1 Works.
  • When teamed with other B vitamins, B2 helps in metabolism. Find out what it does at How Vitamin B2 Works.
  • Found mostly in protein, Vitamin B3 keeps us strong. How Vitamin B3 Works explains what happens if you don't get enough of it.
  • To learn about the many vitamins in our diet, how much you should be eating, and where to find them, go to our general Vitamins page.
  • If you were looking for the best prices on B vitamin supplements, click here.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.